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Profane Exegesis: My Day In The Life of Sylvia Plath

Profane Exegesis: My Day In The Life of Sylvia Plath

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Published by Robertkh238
Journal section from some years back centering loosely around Sylvia Plath.
Journal section from some years back centering loosely around Sylvia Plath.

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Published by: Robertkh238 on Dec 08, 2009
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03/30/2013

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Profane Exegesis: My Day In The Life of Sylvia Plath
Robert K HoggHere’s a good one: During a dream, by which I mean only the other day, I foundI couldn’t switch the light on, which baffled me. There was someone there withme, I don’t know who. Perhaps he was my surrogate version of the character inthe Waking Life movie. But it was an anxiety dream. I assumed my electric had been cut off. I still have the bill to pay (Drama? You got it). And even within thedream, if obscurely, I had the conviction it might be an 'omen' of some kind, or awarning. One that said, this is a glimpse of your trivial future, and you screwedup paying your bill. But then I noticed the electronic clock of the video-recorder  – that in real life doesn’t work – shining in the darkness.... Whatever the hell thatmeans.But time could represent the way it preoccupies us, weighs on us, like gravity,tying our thoughts down, to thoughts of death, feeling we're trapped in the mire,stuck in the here and now – and not in a good, fun, spanky way – that the battlewas lost before it's begun. A symbol of the dangers of future, potentialdemoralisation. I'm out of similes now. Nothing like looking on Mr Brightside.There's a taste in my mouth, and it's no taste at all. At worst, I’ll keep an eye onthe cash so as not to be careless, just in case. That’s reminded me of a quiterecent weird episode with money, but I can barely be arsed describing it, so Iwon’t, but might come back to it if I remember.Last night just before I went to bed, I had the impulse to take down The journals of Sylvia Plath from the shelf. No biggie (though it’s a large volume!).When I think of her, the first thing that comes to mind is her attractiveness andintelligence and the waste of her suicide; but that was up to her. I noticed thestuck up bint across the street, sorry – mother's – voice sounded oddly Plathlike.She (Plath, not the mother: though to think on it, there isn't a million miles between them in their outlook; at least Plath knew she was preoccupied withthoughts of death, but these people are dissociation par excellence) – came toremind me of Lynn and her death fixation. I well remember Lynn remarking onit when she – Plath – was featured in an O.U. prog on female writers. I watchedit a couple of times. One of the Brontes was also featured I think, as well as the poet, Christina Rossetti. I have a small volume of hers... supporting the wafer thin Simpson's poster on my bedroom window. (One afternoon it was warping inthe sun and sliding off and it was beginning to freak me out until I realized whatthe weird scratching sound was). It crossed my mind to stick the big Plath book on the windowsill in my no doubt vain quest to educate and inform the mindlessmasses in the form of her younger alter-ego's – Walter Ego – the silly little bitches across the street, who watch everything I do.At the moment, I also have a cheap novel I picked up, titled The Earth, My
 
Butt, and Other Big ROUND Things. But I would. That and the Simpson's poster featuring tens of characters in the series – a kind of eccentric group portrait, and also the old Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray large formatvolume on Bowie. I had it years ago, but these get nicked or lost in the morass of the prime narst ex. Same thing. All pearls before swine of course, but Bowiefeatures in the next episode of this new history of rock on BBC 2, along withPink Floyd, Roxy Music and others, though I fail to see the direct connectionwith Floyd. I suppose it must be the Sixties connection. He – Bowie – did do acover of Floyd's See Emily Play, on Pin-ups. I was listening to Floyd’s Relics atthe time of Ziggy Stardust in ’72. The first in the series was on Hendrix and itwas interesting to hear how he “blew Clapton off the stage”. Poor Eric,conceited, humourless, arrogant tyke that he is. I’ve always had that impression.It must've been a mortifying experience for him, but that's the sporadic nature of artistic gifts for you. My dad once saw him bawling out some girlfriend inTurnberry hotel by the lift. sense. Maybe she was crazymakuing gold-digger,and it was his artistic temperament.Anyhoo, not to be sidetracked any more, I opened the Plath volume atrandom and read (154), “November 3 – God, if I ever have come close towanting to commit suicide, it is now, with the groggy sleepless blood draggingthrough my veins, and the air thick and grey with rain and the damn little menacross the street pounding on the roof with picks and axes and chisels, and theacrid hellish stench of tar. I fell into bed again this morning, begging for sleep,withdrawing into the dark, warm, fetid escape from any action, fromresponsibility. No good. The mail bell rang and I jerked myself up to answer it.A letter from Dick. Sick with envy, I read it, thinking of him lying up there,rested, fed, taken care of, free to explore his books and thoughts at any whim. Ithought of the myriad of physical duties I had to perform: write Prouty; write upPress Board; call Marcia. The list mounted, obstacle after fiendish obstacle, they jarred, they leered, they fell apart in chaos, and the revulsion, the desire to endthe pointless round of objects, of things, of actions, rose higher. To annihilate theworld by the annihilation of oneself is the deluded height of desperate egoism.The simple way out of all the little brick dead ends we scratch our nails against.Irony it is to see Dick raised, lifted to the pinnacles of irresponsibility to anything but care of his body – to feel his mind soaring, reaching, and mine caged, crying,impotent, self-reviling, an imposter. How to justify myself, my bold, bravehumanitarian faith? My world falls apart, crumbles, “The centre does not hold.”There is no integrating force, only the naked fear, the urge to self-preservation.”Cheerful, huh? She’s interesting to read. She certainly has a naturallydramatic way with language, but it lacks exuberance – to say the least. “Thedamn little men across the street”... sounds almost like harassment fromgangstalkers of the time. Look it up. And her abhorrence of the demands of life,of time – probably the world, to escape everything, sounds like one of Ballard'sshort stories. It sounds like – comes across like – she was desperate for meaning
 
 but didn’t know where to find it. This is confirmed later, when she mentions the possibility of finding a psychiatrist then dismisses the idea; and I have to respecther for that as most of them surely don’t know shit, though I’m sure they’ll think they have my number; but 'you ain’t heard nothin’ yet'. I used to feel a vaguedislike of her hubby, the poet Ted Hughes, no doubt stemming from an elementof jealousy, but also the thought he may have failed her. I pictured him absorbedin his work and desire for literary greatness, fame – and she does remark on it,and it may well be significant, but the truth is I don’t know enough about therelationship, or her personality. And she may well been just as ambitious. Iwatch the occasional documentary on these literary figures, then forget themalmost as soon as I've seen. It's a talent.I only got just over 100 pages into the journals before I let myself bedistracted; though I did spend £20 a while back on a bunch of books on the twoof them, but didn’t even begin them. I tend to forget my own motivations; thatand there is so much to look into and keep up with. My life is a never endingcycle of floundering in reading material. I’m overwhelmed by it. I have enough books to keep me going for twenty years even if I never buy another. You couldstart a bookshop the pragmatic-minded say. As if I bought them for some loss-making future business. One buys books for curiosity and the stimulation of ideas, and ideally, in my case, to recycle what I’ve learned from them in the formof more ideas, preferably with an added dimension of interest. Ideally. But Iwrite only of what I find of interest myself, in any case, often of necessity.Seems to me it’s the only way to be. Yes, I can indulge myself in some moreconventionally bookish novel of ideas. and being ruthless with my emotions, anddemonstrate my versatility in various genres - and I may not, vis a vis HenryMiller, but when all is done and said and done, what is a novel or any writing atall, but a reflection of the thought-system of the author and how they interpret theworld and existence?There's also the question of experience, and Colin Wilson writes about thisin his letters to Henry Miller. He says – in the intro – that had to skip vastsections, as he found Miller’s long descriptions of his friends and acquaintances boring. Or is just that he, CW, doesn’t have the same interest in them, or peoplein general, preferring to get his ideas from books? Then again he's remarked onothers not being genuinely interested on people. So maybe it's simply a case thatWilson's friends and mind are far more interesting to him than Henry Miller's. Or how he chooses to write about them. The perennial question; and problem. Hehas solved it, or believes he has, through emphasising the importance of ideasand the mind. He’s right of course. But what is also apparent, to me at least, ishe would never have invested the time and effort on certain people as some of usdo. True, it was as good as thrown in my face with murderous-minded interest, but it gave me an insight into a way of being in the world that was almost foreignto me, though I shared the same fear, only expressing it differently. I believeWilson is no different form the rest of us in that sense, and as with the rest of us itcomes down to the matter of forgiveness. There’s a lot to write about in theworld and about it, but the experience and belief in fear is only the converse of 

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